Disclaimer: I do not own anything written in this fan-fic with the exception of my OC characters.

Author's Note: Reviews and comments on how to further improve are appreciated. There will be no yaoi nor will there be any lemons. Enjoy.

Chapter 7

The two of them were up before dawn.

They chewed on a simple meal of pickled vegetables and dried meat before packing their belongings into their scrolls and resumed their journey in silence. Keeping a fast pace all morning, their destination came into view when the sun had reached its highest point.

Standing on a hill, Naruto had a good outlook of the entire port city and he had to say: it was an impressive sight.

Buildings covered the entire landscape below; hundreds of houses and apartments that he was familiar with, stone walls and fortifications that made the defenses back at the Hidden Leaf Village look pathetic in comparison and giant warehouses, establishments and estates that far surpassed any of the Konoha ninja clan compounds in terms of size and area. Ships of various sizes were entering and leaving the harbour while on land, a steady line of people and merchant caravans could be seen. As he and his sensei joined them and drew closer to the city, Naruto felt pleased that they had successfully gotten here without any incident. Their journey that had taken them over four days was coming close to an end.

Inside, the streets were crowded with more people than Naruto had ever witnessed, moving fast and ignoring everything else around them as they got on with their busy lives. Traders and shopkeepers shouted boasts about their merchandise and their prices, attempting to outdo each other in attracting customers. A woman argued fiercely with a merchant as they haggled over the price for a few jars of spices. A bunch of burly men stomped past them, carrying large wooden crates which Naruto assumed were cargo that had come from the ships docked at the harbour and were heading for one of the warehouses. He spotted a carriage which he had only known in books carried by servants and escorted by men armed with katanas and dressed in expensive clothing who pushed anyone in their way aside to clear a path for whoever that was inside that carriage.

The environment here was completely different from the one he had known back at the Hidden Leaf Village or seen at Otafuku Gai and the disguised blonde found it interesting. He had thought that he knew what it was like to have so many people and activity going on in a single place from the festivals he had attended in his previous life but this was beyond anything that he had seen or imagined.

A pity that he did not have the time to look around the port city.

Well aware of their purpose for being here, he asked his sensei about their contact. "Oji-sama, who is this person that we're supposed to meet?"

"His name is Osamu. Runs a certain 'shipping' business. We'll find him at the harbour which is about a few minutes walk from here."

Another question popped into Naruto's mind. "Do you think that we'll find any of the rebels here?"

"It's possible. They're likely to be at Dejima."

'Dejima.' Naruto thought.

It was the wealthiest district in the port city. An area originally built to serve as a trading post for the foreign traders when the port city was but a small village barely worth noticing to anyone. When the Land of Whirlpools rose to become one of the great powers in the continent after the first war, the village became a crucial trading hub between Uzushiogakure and the Fire Country and had enjoyed a sudden growth in both wealth and power. The once small community of fishermen grew to become the port city that nations would and had fought each other over. When the sudden and mysterious destruction of Uzushiogakure came, the Water Country took its place as the primary trading partner of the port city and its people became the main occupants of Dejima.

During that entire time, the district expanded and became more than just a place where trade is conducted. Scholars would gather at Dejima to discuss and trade knowledge while emissaries from the Fire Country, the Water Country and before Uzushiogakure's destruction, the Land of Whirlpools would meet there to conduct diplomatic talks. The family members of the foreign traders and nobles often came to visit the port city and would stay in Dejima. In time, they came to regard it as their second home. Today, Dejima was the lifeline of the port city and its denizens were now so powerful that they had a voice in the city's policies. [1]

It made sense for the rebels to be there.

There was bound to be many there who would be friendly to the rebels' cause for good reasons. Some will sympathize with the plight of their fellow countrymen back at the island. Most, angry at the loyalists for their recent actions that had damaged their businesses. And from what he'd heard, even those who weren't of any bloodline could still end up as victims of Kirigakure's persecutions.

With a war going on and Yagura now defying the water daimyo's authority, anyone could be targeted next including the people of Dejima.

It would be in their every interest to see the current Mizukage toppled.

"How long will it take before we're able to get going to Kirigakure?" the boy asked.

"Once we're done meeting with our contact, it would normally take around a few hours for our transport to be arranged."

"Then we should use that time to find and contact any of the rebels here. Start with Dejima and then head on to the other parts of the city," Naruto suggested. "They might know something that we don't and if there is any of them who doesn't have a way to get to the island at minimal risks, we can convince them to follow us. We need to get as many of those who are on our side there it we want to have a good chance of winning this war. That is if this Osamu agrees with it first."

His sensei gave a look of approval. "You're learning."

The older ninja then lengthened his pace. "I am planning to do that. You will not be joining me however. Once we're done with our meeting, I'm going to find ourselves a room to stay and I will drop you there before heading to Dejima. Don't get me wrong, I do not mind you following me but you need to keep a low profile until we get to the other side. Try to get some rest while you can - there will be little for that when we get to our destination."


The room was simple.

There was a bed with a single mattress, its sheets recently laundered.

A chair and a table that had two drawers with an ewer of fresh water on it.

Thin curtains hung over the window and a large worn carpet on the floor.

Putting his scroll case and equipment aside, Naruto lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling above. He did want to join his sensei to find and meet the rebels that could be in the city but understood the gravity of the situation he was in. If Konoha was to come here looking for him and hear about a man and a boy about the same age as the Hokage's son going around the port city looking for the Kirigakure rebels, that would be enough reason for them to focus their search efforts for him on Kirigakure. From there, it was only a matter of time before he gets discovered. [2]

Whether or not the rebels would come to support him, they could not afford to make an enemy of the Hidden Leaf Village when they still had a civil war to fight.

They would be forced or willing to give him up to Konoha or at the very best allow him to leave quietly and either outcomes were undesirable to Naruto. It was hard for a hunted ninja without any connections or favorable reputation to survive for long in this world. Takito could help him out in that scenario but Naruto did not want to rely on his sensei more than what he was already doing.

He had to take responsibility for himself and there was no way he could keep his promise if he had to depend on others all the time.

For this, he needed to make sure that the loyalists were defeated and establish a secure position for himself before he could afford to have his identity exposed.

Stifling a yawn, Naruto realized that he could use a few hours of slumber.

He could feel the fatigue coming back.

It had started to plague him when they were halfway through the journey for they had only about four to five hours of sleep whenever they had decided to stop moving for the day. Sleep itself had also been difficult for him for some time ever since that act he had committed at Otafuku Gai three days ago. Each time he had tried to go to sleep, the memories of what he had done at his first stop would come gnawing at his mind.


-Flashback-

The lighting down here was bright, casting large shadows of two individuals who made their way down to the lower floor. The sounds of the district's inhabitants above had faded away and Naruto could only hear the footsteps made by him and his sensei. At the bottom was a tunnel that was narrow and dirty. Drops of water were leaking from the ceiling forming small puddles of water on the ground and a few rats scurried about.

They went past several side passages and when Naruto took a look at them, all he could see was utter darkness.

'What are we doing here?' Naruto asked himself inwardly. The entire place felt cold and uncomfortable to him as if there were some dark secrets hidden down here that no one was ever supposed to know. Secrets that would condemn one forever should one ever learn them. His body was tense, ready to react to any danger that may be lurking about. His sensei beside him seemed not to notice his discomfort. The man had brought him to this run down apartment when he had returned from his meeting with whoever that he was supposed to meet. There was a task for him to carry out, his sensei had told him when they had started moving out and that had been it. No word was spoken between the two of them after that. At the end of the tunnel was a large metal door. A man stood by the door, his eyes trained on the two approaching figures. A large wicked blade was strapped to his side and it was caked in dried blood. The man gave Takito a brief nod and the two started talking in hushed voices. Naruto tried to overhear the dialogue between the two but it was hard and he managed to catch only snatches of it.

"... is this ... is ... condition?"

"... alive and well ... wasn't easy ... had to ... boy?"

"... don't ask ... did ... say ..."

"... all written ... hurt ..."

"... understand ... work ..."

"... as always ..."

Takito drew out a stack of notes and placed it into the man's hands. A faint smile formed on the man's face and he opened the door which lead to a dark room. Entering the room after his sensei, Naruto felt himself shiver. His instincts were telling him the obvious fact that something was not right. The door behind closed and Naruto was about to whirl around when the lights came on.

The boy took a step back in shock.

In the middle of the room was a man tied to a chair.

He sported all sorts of wounds over his body and there was a large brown sack over his head. He was hunched forward seemingly unconscious, perhaps even dead until Takito pulled the sack away. The prisoner jolted upwards, his eyes darting in every direction in surprise and confusion. His mouth was tightly bounded with a cloth and muffled sounds came out from it. Black and blue bruises were all over the man's face and the eyes were blood-red.

"Naruto." The voice came from Takito who threw the sack away and went to stand next to him.

"Takito-sama, what is going on? Who is this person?" Naruto said, his eyes never leaving the prisoner in front of him.

"A dead man," Takito said. "I will not go into the details about who he is or how he had ended up like this. What I will tell you is that this man here is an enemy and represents a potential threat to us. With a certain amount of persuasion, I was able to get everything out from him or so I believe. There is no longer anything of value to us that he has and keeping him alive would be a waste of resources and might put us in a difficult position in the future. As such, the best option now would take care of him before anything undesirable may happen. And this is where you come in Naruto. You are now a ninja and it's time for you to take your first step as one. Being your teacher, it is only right that I assign you this task."

His sensei held out a kunai for him.

The older shinobi's expression became cold and dry. "Naruto, I want you to kill him."

There was a dead silence in the room. Naruto's eyes flicked to the prisoner. The prisoner had stopped struggling and was staring at him.

The blonde looked back at Takito, looking for a sign that this was just some sort of test but saw nothing of that sort.

The air was full of tension.

"Kill him," Takito said. "Will you do that?"

"... yes," Naruto finally answered.

"Then take this."

"Hai." His hand reached out and took the kunai from his sensei and Naruto slowly walked over to the man who was now struggling harder than ever. When he was but a step away, the boy paused. The man's eyes were staring directly at his and Naruto could see the fear and desperation in his eyes, begging him not to do it. Tears were streaming down the prisoner's face. The boy wondered whether the man really had to die. Takito had told him that the prisoner was an enemy and a potential threat that needed to eliminated. So why did he felt so reluctant to do it? The kunai felt heavy in his hand.

But before hesitation could take control of him, the words said to him by his sensei years ago when they had first met came back into his head.

'Being a ninja doesn't mean that what we are doing is good. Most of the missions we do serve only to profit a few while others suffer in the process. We may not like the job but once taken, we will do it for that's who we are.'

This was what he was meant to do as a ninja.

There can be no room for hesitation or doubt.

Naruto felt resolved to finish the task and clenched the kunai in his hand.

So where should he strike?

He didn't want to make his target suffer any longer than he should.

It was inefficient and he doubted that he could stomach the idea of killing the prisoner slowly.

The neck of course - the best way to kill the man would be to slit the neck open. There were two carotid arteries in the neck. A severed carotid would result in unconsciousness within one to three minutes or less with death following shortly behind. [3]

It would be painless if he did it properly and more importantly it would be quick.

Going behind the prisoner and ignoring the man's weak struggles, Naruto held the kunai to the man's neck.

He took a deep breath and silently counted to three.

And with a slash, it was done.


They had immediately left Otafuku Gai into the darkening wilderness after that.

Never stopping until two hours later which Naruto had been grateful for. He had suddenly felt exhausted, a complete opposite of what he had been before that. He had eaten little that night, just enough to keep his stomach from growling. He had not felt like doing anything - not his usual chakra spinning exercises, not his pondering about the progress of his journey to Kirigakure or whether the Konoha ninjas would track them down, not even talking to Takito.

He had just sat there staring at a patch of earth for a long time before deciding to get some sleep. When he had closed his eyes, he saw the terrified look on the man he had killed moments before his death, how his victim had trashed about for a few seconds before becoming still.

And the blood ... he could never forget how it had come spraying out from the neck for an instant before pouring out of the wound in great amounts. [4]

No matter how much he had tried to wash it away from his hands, the red stain had remained on his hands.

The next morning, he had confided with his sensei about his nightmare and the feelings that had followed him after his kill. It felt shameful to talk about how wrong it had felt for him to kill someone when he had trained hard to do precisely that for years and he had expected Takito to become angry or show his displeasure at his behaviour when he was done. But he had found nothing of that, only understanding from his sensei. "There is nothing wrong with what you are feeling now Naruto. What you are going through is exactly the same thing that everyone does when they made their first kill. Well maybe not everyone but you get what I'm trying to say. It takes time to recover from that and even longer to get used to it. How that goes depends on you alone Naruto."

"When someone kills somebody or go through something similiar to that, there can only be two outcomes. Either the experience breaks him or that person becomes stronger, accepts what he has done and moves foward. I know that yesterday had been hard for you but do understand that it was for the best."

Heeding his teacher's words, Naruto had tried to keep his mind fixated on his mission and not dwell on the life he had taken. Talking with his sensei or making plans days ahead had become the best way of doing that and each time his thoughts drifted to what had happened back at Otafuku Gai, the blonde would take a huge deep breath and start doing either of the two. It wasn't easy and the memories still returned chiefly at night but the troubles they had brought diminished day by day and on the fourth day of the journey, they did not trouble him much.

The damage was done; the trouble he had sleeping before had made him easily tired for rest of the travel but he had pulled himself together.

He was a ninja after all, not a civilian and it was time for him to move on.


-Hours later-

Haku hid in the shadows, sticking herself to the wall of one of the towers as she scanned the docks.

There was no sign of their mysterious contact. Not that she was expecting to see the man yet, she had left at 11.10 pm which was twenty minutes before they were to come here and not much time had passed since then. She had been sent here to scout out the area to see if there was anything that might indicate that the meeting was nothing more than a trap. She jumped off from her spot, skirting the flickering pools of light as she went to different points in the harbour that offered a strategic view of the area. Finding nothing odd or suspicious, she sat on another building and watched. In an attempt to pass the time, she thought about the idea of returning to the Land of Water.

Six years - that was how long it had been since they had left that island when her master had failed in his coup.

Truth be told, she had a mixed view about coming back to her homeland. She had already lost everything dear to her there a long time ago so the Land of Water was just another place to her with a few bad memories.

But to her master, it had been his only goal ever since his exile.

She could remember the expression on Zabuza and the Demon Brothers when they had heard the call for all of those exiled by Kirigakure to return and join the war against the Mizukage's reign. She had seen the look of pride on their faces, the sense of longing to return back to the place they knew as home. To them, the civil war was more than just an end to all the running and hiding they had been forced to do every time the hunter-nins had tracked them down. It was a chance to serve the Hidden Mist Village once more, to return and fight for the place they cared about.

Returning back to Kirigakure was everything to her master and she would see it through no matter what.

And they were so close to achieving that. The only thing that now stood in their way to the Water Country were the blockades that Kirigakure had set up.

There was no way to get past them unseen and the odds of breaking through were stacked against them.

For some time they had been idle as her master contemplated several ways to get to Kirigakure. All that had changed today when they had received a visit from that stranger whom her master had recognized to be Mirikatoji Takito. [5] Haku had never heard of him before but she had promptly went on her guard. Not because he had found their hideout or that he had made the chunin twins very agitated but because there was something about the ninja that Haku felt was wrong. Before anyone could act, the ninja had raised his hands in a gesture of peace and had told them of his intention of joining the rebel's side in the civil war and that he knew a safe route to get to Kirigakure.

He had came searching for any rebels in the city to offer them the chance to follow him.

Her master seeing that there was no better way of getting to Kirigakure had agreed to the ninja's proposal to join along. [6]

They had then traded a few words with each other before the man had left.

She had tried to ask her master about Takito after that but Zabuza had refused to talk about it.

Her eyes sweeping the docks one last time, Haku turned away and was about to head back to her master when she heard a noise behind her, a footstep.

Suddenly, there was a kunai at her throat.

"Don't move," came a whisper.


-Explanations-

[1] Dejima does exists in reality. It was an artificial island built during the Edo period to originally constrain the Portugese merchants in Nagasaki because of the isolationist policy of Japan where no foreigner could enter Japan on penalty of death. Later, only the Dutch and the Chinese were allowed in Dejima. Over time, there were several European scholars who stayed there and Dejima became the center of medicine, military science and astronomy and many samurai would travel there to study. I've decided to adopt that into my fanfic.

[2] Naruto is just being extremely cautious, a habit that he has picked up from Takito.

[3] I don't know whether this is true; I had been searching a few websites for this. If anyone does know how slitting one's neck or throat works, please correct me.

[4] The same thing with [3] goes with this.

[5] Though not mentioned, Takito had went through several contacts and did some searching before he had actually found out about Zabuza and his group. And the meeting was much more tense.

[6] Though not mentioned, Zabuza was careful and suspicious about accepting Takito's offer. Takito may had at one point worked for Kirigakure but that was long time ago and if you readers recalled in one of the previous chapters, even Ao did not trust Takito.


-Author's Note-

Chapter 7 is complete.

If you were expecting something very, very interesting, I'm sorry.

This is the shortest and the least put in effort and thought chapter that I have ever written so far for this fanfic. The original plan for this chapter was to also put in Naruto's first battle. But my mind has not been functioning properly as it should be and I was eager to get my fanfic updated. If you're wondering what's going on at the last part, well, I think that I'm just going to keep you readers in the dark. (hehe)

Regarding the seven swordsmen, no decision has yet to made. I am still doing my research about it and contemplating the idea of making Naruto one of them. It will take a few updates before I finally make up my mind.

Now, there's another thing that I wish to inform to my readers. Recently, I have been watching RWBY. If you don't know what's that, it's an 'anime' (depends on how you define anime) by Monty Oum. Seeing that it had only started only like a month ago, I was real surprised to find several fanfics and crossovers out already. I will admit that I was caught in the excitement and was tempted to write one too. However, there is so little to work on and as such I have chose to stay in the planning phase and wait for more episodes of RWBY to be released.

I don't know whether I will write a fanfic or a crossover of it but I won't start on it until I have done a significant portion of this fanfic and have come out with a proper work schedule that will ensure that this fanfic will not be neglected.

The next chapter will be on Naruto's first battle, his arrival at Kirigakure and meeting with Mei. I am going to slightly reduce the descriptions and get the story moving faster. Don't expect an update for a while though, just as Zabuza has answered the call to return back to Kirigakure, I have to answer the call of two assignments that are due next Monday. XD

If there is anything that you readers feel that you do not like about the way this fanfic is being written or have any questions to ask, feel free to mention them in your reviews.

Thank you for your reviews and for reading this story.